In an island-wide anti-scam enforcement operation conducted between 9 and 13 March 2023, the Anti-Scam Command of the Singapore Police Force arrested nine men and four women, aged between 18 and 56, for their suspected involvement in recent spate of rental scams. Scammers would impersonate legitimate property agents and ask victims for payment to secure the rental of a unit before viewing the property as part of the scams. Another three women, aged between 21 and 27, are also assisting in investigations.
Preliminary investigations revealed that the sixteen persons purportedly received illicit proceeds from rental scams in their bank accounts. They allegedly allowed their bank accounts to be used to receive the illicit proceeds and withdrew the proceeds, which were then handed to others in the syndicate for easy money. Scam proceeds amounting to more than $1.3 million from 480 rental scam cases were dissipated via cash withdrawals from these bank accounts.
Those who allegedly assist another to retain benefits from criminal conduct are liable for an offence under Section 51 of the Corruption, Drug Trafficking and Other Serious Offences (Confiscation of Benefits) Act, which carries an imprisonment term of up to 10 years, a fine of up to $500,000, or both.
To avoid becoming involved in money laundering activities, members of the public should always reject requests to allow their bank accounts to be used to receive and transfer money for others.
The Police would also like to remind members of the public to adopt the following precautionary measures when securing appointments to view properties:
- ADD - ScamShield App and set security features (e.g., enable two-factor (2FA) or multifactor authentication for banks, social media, Singpass accounts; set transaction limits on internet banking transactions, including PayNow)
- CHECK - for scam signs with official sources. Verify the legitimacy of a property listing via the following means:
- Liaise with a property agent using only the agent’s phone number registered on CEA’s Public Register. Members of the public may check whether a property agent is registered with CEA by searching for the agent’s phone number on the CEA Public Register. If the search does not lead to the property agent’s profile page, it means that the property agent has not registered that phone number with the CEA and the listing is likely a scam.
- TELL - authorities, family, and friends about scams. Report the fraudulent pages to the online platforms (for e.g. Facebook, Carousell, etc)
For more information on scams, members of the public can visit www.scamalert.sg or call the Anti-Scam Hotline at 1800-722-6688. Anyone with information on such scams may call the Police Hotline at 1800-255-0000 or submit information online at www.police.gov.sg/iwitness. All information will be kept strictly confidential.
Photo of cash seized
SINGAPORE POLICE FORCE
14 March 2023 @ 4:19 PM